What’s the best ammo to use for self-defense? Many gun owners want to know. When it comes to handguns, the 9mm has secured its place as the best self-defense ammunition for roughly four decades. Find out why.

Why Use 9mm Ammo for Self-Defense?

The reasons why the 9mm cartridge is recommended as the universal cartridge for training and personal defense are many. Many firearms instructors agree the 9mm hits the sweet spot of usability for the vast majority. Usability equates to ease of handling and the ability to hit a target with single or multiple shots on demand within a reasonable amount of time. In a full- or compact-sized pistol, the low recoil of the 9mm makes the gun easier to shoot than comparable pistols in larger calibers.

Ballistically speaking, the 9mm’s trajectory is relatively flat to 50 meters, and it maintains its lethality there and beyond. Bullet weights range from 50 to 160 grains, varying from lightweight composites to conventional lead, depending on the application.

Logistically, the 9mm is globally more plentiful than any other handgun cartridge. Even though prices vary greatly, the 9mm is less expensive than comparable centerfire handgun loadings in the same market. This means training with your favorite personal-defense firearm is easier and universally more likely in today’s environment.

What Does Law Enforcement Use?

Up until the mid-to-late 1980s, 9mm ammunition was not the first choice of law enforcement agencies. However, some key federal agencies adopted the cartridge in their new European-made pistols. With the U.S. Secret Service, the DEA and the FBI backing the it, the 9mm was boosted to the forefront of handgun cartridges.

Going with the premise that the objective of shooting is hitting the intended target, the FBI found that an increasing number of its agents were having a hard time qualifying and maintaining proficiency with their .40-caliber Glock 23 duty pistols. Initially, the answer to the problem was to issue those agents who were having trouble with the 23 the identical gun in 9mm, which was the Glock 19. But the FBI eventually transitioned to the 9mm Glock 19 as its duty pistol of choice.

As a result of this change and the procurement efforts of other federal agencies, the vast majority of armed federal agents today are carrying 9mm pistols. State and local agencies regularly follow the federal example. And it goes without saying that military and law enforcement equipment and materiel selections influence the choices of the concealed carry and personal-defense markets.

How to Choose 9mm Ammo

First and foremost, the “best” 9mm ammo for defensive use will be designed specifically for that purpose. Especially with the small and fast 9mm, round-nose or full metal jacket ammo tends to penetrate and make small holes. While that can certainly be lethal, that result isn’t desirable because lethality isn’t the goal. Stopping an attack as quickly as possible is. If you can do that without causing the death of your attacker, all the better. Most defensive 9mm ammo is designed to quickly stop an aggressor by expanding and slowing when it hits an organic target. That causes more fight-stopping damage more quickly than a smooth bullet passing through cleanly.

No. 1 Option

Regardless of where you are on your self-defense journey, the 9mm is the best option for self-defense. It has age, proven efficiency and a slew of other factors on its side. It has even survived a period of being ostracized in the U.S. The 9mm has secured its place in American self-defense handgunning. Don’t expect it to be phasing out anytime soon.